News of Yore: Strip Continuity

Syndicate Policies Vary On Continuity
By Helen M. Staunton (E&P, 1/25/47)

To the syndicate the carryover of comic strip fans from daily to Sunday or Sunday to daily is an important consideration, especially in these competitive days when one syndicate’s sale is another syndicate’s cancellation. Syndicate policy on handling continuity from daily to Sunday varies greatly, and each has good reasons for its conduct of the comic’s plot.

Activities Varied
McClure’s “Superman” may swoop out of windows and bait bank robbers each weekday, aid a veteran in successive Saturday colored pages (huh?) and carry on a third episodic story Sundays. McNaught’s “Joe Palooka” carries on two continuities, one along personal lines and the other not far from the prize ring. AP Newsfeatures’ “Scorchy Smith” works hard at adventures during the week, but pauses Sunday for a timeless gag incident. The Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate’s “Dick Tracy” rushes madly about town or suffers under impending dooms during the week, but his problems come to a head Sundays.

Even the gag strips, which use little or no continuity, frequently change their characters for Sunday, but when they do the reason is the desire to appeal to younger readers. The diversity of syndicate practice is in the continuity comics, not in their humorous comics.

In the CT-NYNS list of comics “Dick Tracy” “Terry and the Pirates” and “Little Orphan Annie” of the continuity strips, use a single continuity for the whole week, but the “Gumps” and “Gasoline Alley” do not. The reason? Some artists have a flair for keeping a plot moving with the single and necessarily overlapping continuity, and some prefer to handle only a .single plot.

King Features – with a very few exceptions – does not coordinate daily and Sunday plots because so frequently the daily and Sunday comics are published by different newspapers and “because readers have become educated” to dual plots, according to Editor and General Manager Ward Greene. For good measure he threw in also the shipping problems in sending the daily and Sunday separately to foreign countries. “Steve Canyon,” however, “Little Annie Rooney” and (recently and experimentally) “Buz Sawyer,” have carried the one plot past the turn of the week. Other syndicates expressed their policies and reasons variously:

United Feature Syndicate- separate action preferred because daily and Sunday placed separately and “continuity of characters is more important as a tie-in than single plot.”

McNaught – separate plots or action because the syndicate may sell dally and Sunday to different papers in same city and because artists, preparing Sunday pages eight or nine weeks in advance, find coordination difficult.

AP Newsfeatures – prefer daily continuity separate from Sunday action, but don’t like a Sunday continuity to run more than three or four weeks and prefer it complete in one page because the “week’s time lapse is too great” for a holdover of story interest.

Register & Tribune Syndicate – Single continuity is a pretty definite policy, arranged so that the Saturday story reads into the Sunday and also reads into the Monday strip, the Sunday action being an independent incident growing out of the main plot but not necessary to it and not requiring explanation.

Chicago Sun Syndicate – coordinated plot preferred, particularly on an adventure strip to avoid reader confusion and aid selling.

McClure – Separate plots for Superman, coordinated plot for ‘ Cynthia,” using a side incident of main plot, because “Cynthia” is a true to life story and a double continuity would sacrifice authenticity.

NEA Service – No set policy. Four features have coordinated continuity and one, “Alley Oop” changed over to a single story some months ago.

George Matthew Adams Service – No coordination.

One comment on “News of Yore: Strip Continuity

  1. It seems to be a bit of a put-down when she says “some artists have a flair”, implying others do not.
    Especially when in that same paragraph it is Frank King who is one of those who do not have the flair.
    His Sunday pages, independent of daily continuity, were works of art with a self-contained artistic continuity that must have taken hours longer to create than if he had simply continued the daily storyline.

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